This dream of a program has been a long time coming. And now, after an inaugural event at the CAMP Community Center on Oct. 20 a new partnership between two non-profits— CAMP Rehoboth and Mautner Project—is in place to provide help, support and peace of mind to local men and women.
Yes, you read it correctly, MEN and women. Though traditionally a women’s cancer and health support group in Washington, DC, Mautner Project has come to our uniquely homogenized (or HOMOgenized) community here in Rehoboth to join with CAMP in serving our whole community.
On Oct. 20 more than 80 people showed up at the CAMP Community Center to launch the new CAMP-Mautner Cares project. The new service will provide support services like transportation to doctor and chemotherapy appointments, grocery shopping, and some household tasks to self-identifying lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender individuals living with serious illnesses like cancer in the Rehoboth Beach-Lewes area. During a health crisis all of us need assistance managing life-threatening and life-altering illnesses or situations.
“It’s much like the old ’buddy system’ we had in place during the height of the AIDS crises in Rehoboth,” says CAMP Executive Director Steve Elkins, “community taking care of community. We are just talking about somebody to walk along the journey and help with specified activities.” Elkins estimates being able to recruit 50-75 volunteers for the program.
CAMP Rehoboth will provide the facilities while Mautner Project will provide the training. While individuals needing help have often called on their friends, as well as CAMP to assist, and have received help, there will now be a formal program dedicated to these goals.
Our community, here and in DC, learned so much about helping those needing a hand in the 1990s. Lessons CAMP Rehoboth and Mautner Project learned in their more than two decades of operating will be put together to form this new action team.
Mautner Project staff will provide the expertise, training and supervising the volunteers. CAMP will provide logistical support and assist with outreach and recruitment of volunteers and of clients. Together, the two groups hope to raise funds to support the project.
“We always talked about putting together services like this,“ says Bonnie Quesenberry, who works at Cadbury in Lewes and who has often volunteered to work with the elderly and those needing assistance. “But more immediate issues, like fighting discrimination and LGBT advocacy had our attention. But now that Mautner is here to work with CAMP, we can really get this thing going.”
“It was wonderful,” says CAMP Rehoboth Treasurer and long-time volunteer Natalie Moss. “The event was well attended with many of the women who came to the launch party, signing up to volunteer for the new joint program. Executive Directors of both organizations spoke of how excited they were to get this much needed service up and running.”
The first volunteer training took place at CAMP Rehoboth on November 3. Mautner uses the web to send out calendars with participants’ needs.
Mautner Project was founded in DC in 1990, following the death of Mary-Helen Mautner. Mautner had asked her partner, Susan Hester, to start an organization that could help other lesbians facing the overwhelming challenges of breast cancer. Her own experience, with friends and family providing services, inspired the idea. Mautner Project began as a completely volunteer organization, but over the years has become a non-profit with a professional staff and 100 volunteers. Similarly, CAMP Rehoboth has, since its 1991 founding, become a full-service community center for the LGBT community in the Rehoboth area.
“It’s very exciting for us,” says Leslie Calman, director of Mautner Project. “It’s our very first expansion project outside of the Metro D.C. area.”